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Food insecurity and the pandemic:

How a local organization is finding creative ways to help
Food Policy

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the way Canadians access food and their ability to afford it. In March and April this year, more people across Canada were shopping for their groceries online. Compared to 2019 there are less people eating out at restaurants, and instead more people are ordering meals to their homes. Also, more people are cooking at home and growing their own food.

Another big change since the pandemic is that some people are working less or have lost their jobs. This means that more families are dealing with household food insecurity. This is when households are not able to get enough food, or are not able to have enough food in the house all the time. Food insecurity is most often caused by limited income. Statistics Canada reports that household food insecurity has increased the most in families with kids.

Although the pandemic has caused new challenges around food for many people and families, there have also been some creative solutions. In Kamloops, there are a number of organizations to help people and families dealing with food insecurity. One example is the Mt. Paul Community Food Centre, located on the North Shore of Kamloops at 140 Laburnum St. Before the pandemic, the food centre did a lot of in-person programs, but now they have made changes to follow COVID-19 health

and safety rules. For instance, instead of running in-person cooking programs for kids to learn food skills, the centre puts together kid’s recipe kits. These kits have all the ingredients and instructions for kids and families to make a recipe at home. This activity is open to anyone, and has been a big hit. There have been 977 kids and 820 adults using the recipe kits since June.

Another change at the Mt. Paul Community Food Centre is that instead of serving fresh soups inside the centre, they now do “Terrific Takeaways.” This takeaway lunch can include things like wraps, soups, and smoothies. Terrific Takeaways happen at noon on Mondays and Thursdays.

One thing that has not changed at the Mt. Paul Community Food Centre is the huge amount of food they recover from the food bank. Since March the centre has rescued over 70,000 pounds of food that would have otherwise gone to landfill. This food arrives Monday to Thursday. This food is sorted, prepped, and cooked by volunteers into meals for people who come by the centre. Volunteers can also deliver these meals to people in the community who might have trouble getting to the centre. On Wednesdays there are also good food boxes made and delivered to adults (55 or older) in need. While COVID-19 has made it harder for some people and families to have enough food at home, the Mt. Paul Community Food Centre is finding new ways to help.

If you or someone you know might be interested in learning more about programs or services provided by the Mt. Paul Community Food Centre, or would like to get involved, check them out on Facebook, or give them a call at 236-421-1011.

Desha Miciak is a 5th year UBC Dietetics Student completing her internship with Interior Health.